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Best alternatives to Amazon

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Looking for alternatives to Amazon? Here are some ethical and eco-friendly online shops where you can buy all of your favourite things.

woman holding card with books, lipstick, laptop and a gift

Credit: Prostock-studio, Jure Divich, itim2101, Sofiaworld, New Africa – Shutterstock

Amazon thrives as a site that offers varied choices, fast delivery, and overall convenience for shoppers. But this comes at a cost.

Here are just some of the reasons you might consider finding alternatives to Amazon:

  • The company has a huge carbon footprint of 71.54m tons of CO2e*
  • There have been reports that their warehouse employees are required to work in unfair conditions for low pay
  • Amazon is known to avoid paying tax
  • It has previously been reported that Amazon destroys a huge amount of unsold stock
  • It's important to support small businesses.

With all of this in mind, many of us are – understandably – turning to other stores for our online shopping.

CO2e means carbon dioxide equivalent, which includes CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Amazon alternatives

No matter what you're buying, here are the best places to shop instead of Amazon:

  1. Books

    Colourful books with blue background

    Credit: Unuchko Veronika – Shutterstock

    There are loads of great alternatives to Amazon for books.

    For starters, to reduce your carbon footprint, you could look into buying eBooks. This reduces the need for new books to be manufactured and shipped, which is better for the environment.

    Having said that, though, we completely get that many love the experience of reading physical copies of books and don't want to give that up.

    In that case, try Hive. It's an online retailer that supports independent bookstores. They stock a huge range of books, including many of the current bestsellers. And, better yet, they offer a 10% student discount.

    World of Books is another brilliant option. They sell second-hand books for low prices (often cheaper than Amazon!). You can usually find recent bestsellers on there for less than £6, including some BookTok favourites. It's even possible to buy cheap textbooks from there.

    Plus, have a look at local independent bookstores and charity shops. If you're keen to shop online, see the books for sale on Oxfam's website.

    Another fun option is to do a book swap with your friends and family. This is free to do, and it lets you share your favourite novels with your nearest and dearest and discover new books in return.

    You might also be able to get new books for free if you become a book reviewer or BookToker. Find out more in our guide to making money from reading books.

  2. Electronics

    Next time you need a new phone, look into buying a refurbished mobile. This saves a huge amount of water and lowers carbon emissions compared to getting a brand-new phone.

    Some good alternatives to Amazon for refurbished phones are musicMagpie and Back Market. You can also find a range of other second-hand electronics on both of these sites, including laptops and tablets.

    Another good site for second-hand tech is eBay.

    If you're hoping to buy a brand-new piece of tech, try our mobile phone deal comparison tool.

    And have a look in your local supermarket, too. As an example, we've previously seen cheap electric blankets at Asda.

  3. Health and beauty

    Looking for ethical alternatives to Amazon for health and beauty products? Try Peace with the World and Wearth.

    Both of those UK-owned online stores have a huge selection of eco-friendly products, such as skincare, makeup, toiletries and more.

    If you're buying medication, like cheap hayfever tablets, you can find good deals in online pharmacies.

    Or, for fragrances, try the stores that we list in our guide to buying cheap perfume and aftershave. Some examples are:

  4. Fashion

    Clothes rail

    Credit: New Africa – Shutterstock

    When you're next looking for new clothes, see our list of the best sustainable fashion brands. Although some eco-friendly brands can be expensive, not all are. Lucy & Yak, for example, can have some great bargains in their last-chance-to-buy sales.

    Or, for shoes, have a look at schuh imperfects and Office Offcuts. These sell ex-display shoes for discounted prices. To find out more about these sites (and for more ideas of where to shop) see our guide to buying cheap shoes and trainers.

    While these stores are great alternatives to Amazon and fast fashion retailers, you can go one step further to reduce your carbon footprint by buying second-hand clothes.

    Many of the best places to sell your clothes online, like Depop, Vinted and eBay, are great places to buy pre-loved clothes.

    And, of course, charity shops are ideal. You can either head into your local store, or shop from the comfort of your own home with Oxfam's online store.

  5. Gifts

    One of the best alternatives to Amazon for gifts is Etsy. On there, you can find a huge range of unique products from independent sellers and small businesses.

    If you're not finding anything you like on Etsy, try Not On The High Street. They also sell loads of products from small businesses.

    And, as well as looking for ideas online, head to your local high street to see what you can find in gift stores.

    Buying gifts in person avoids the need for your purchases to be delivered to you. Not only does this save you money on postage and packaging, but it's also better for the environment as it saves a courier a journey.

    It actually adds to the overall buying experience if you pop into a high-street gift store. It gives you the chance to look at everything closely before choosing what to buy and you can chat with the shop assistant while you're there to get recommendations.

    If you're looking for gift ideas, see our guide to the best eco-friendly presents.

    Or why not make gifts by hand? Homemade gifts are among the most thoughtful (and cheapest) ones you can give.

  6. Homeware

    When looking for cheap furniture, Amazon is far from your only option.

    Before looking anywhere else, check Freecycle. You might be able to find items that people in your local area are giving away for free.

    But, if you don't have much luck there, look into furniture charity shops near you. For example, the British Heart Foundation often has shops that are focused on selling second-hand furniture and electricals.

    For home decor items, Etsy is a good shout.

    It's also worth looking into making your own homeware for a low cost. You should be able to find plenty of easy DIY tutorials on YouTube. As you're able to personalise all of the things you make, it's a lovely (and cheap) way to decorate your room.

  7. Video games

    playstation controllers

    One popular alternative to Amazon for video games is GAME. You can find some great deals in their sale.

    However, to save more money, look for second-hand video games.

    As an example, Oxfam sells video games for cheap prices.

    Also, check sites like musicMagpie and Back Market. They often have pre-owned PlayStation, Xbox and Switch games and consoles on sale.

  8. TV streaming sticks

    Although the Amazon Fire Stick is one of the leading TV streaming sticks, it's not the only way to watch your favourite shows and films.

    Here are some other ways to stream films and TV series:

    • Get a Chromecast
    • Try Roku Express
    • Use an HDMI cable to connect your laptop to your TV
    • Get a smart TV (if you're looking for a new television)
    • Use a games console to stream to your TV.

    For more info, see our full guide on the cheap ways to stream films and TV shows.

  9. Audiobooks

    Yet another market that Amazon dominates is audiobooks. But if you're trying to find an alternative to Audible, there are a few good services to try.

    One major audiobook platform is Kobo. You might be able to get cashback if you sign up via Quidco or Topcashback, so check to see if this is an option before signing up.

    BBC Sounds has a small (but great) selection of free audiobooks. Visit the podcast page of their website and you'll see a section called 'Get Lost In A Story'. Here, you'll find stories that are read out by a narrator over a series of episodes.

    There are loads of free audiobooks on Spotify. However, if you can't find the one you want for free, you might be able to buy it instead. If you haven't already, see our tips for saving money on Spotify Premium.

    And we go through more ideas in our guide to getting free audiobooks.

Even with all of these great alternatives, we understand that there might be times when you want to use Amazon. For these occasions, try the tips in the next section...

Change how you shop on Amazon

Here are the best alternative ways to shop on Amazon:

  1. Try Amazon Warehouse

    amazon parcel

    Credit: J.K2507 – Shutterstock

    Amazon Warehouse is a little-known section of amazon.co.uk. It includes products that have previously been opened, as well as ones with minor imperfections.

    Due to the small issues with the products, they tend to be on sale for heavily discounted prices.

    A lot of the items wouldn't quite qualify as 'brand new'. So, had they not been put up for sale at Amazon Warehouse, they could have otherwise gone to waste.

    As such, it's a slightly more eco-friendly way to shop compared to buying new products from the main Amazon site. Find out more in our guide to getting Amazon Warehouse deals.

  2. Shop at smile.amazon.co.uk

    If you're shopping at Amazon, do so via smile.amazon.co.uk.

    This lets you choose a charity to support, and then when you shop, some of your purchase price will be donated to them.

    The donation will come at no extra cost to you.

  3. Use the Climate Pledge Friendly filter

    On Amazon listing pages, have a look through the filter options to find 'Climate Pledge Friendly'. When you select this, you'll only be shown eco-friendly products and brands.

    This is ideal if you've received some free Amazon vouchers and are keen to find sustainable products to spend them on.

  4. Get six months of Prime Student for free

    Person receiving delivery from Amazon

    Credit: Frank Gaertner – Shutterstock

    A major advantage of Amazon is the free six-week trial of Prime Student.

    Amazon Prime Student can help you to save time and money when you're shopping online.

    It gives you access to free next-day delivery, Prime Video and some student-only offers. So, for a lot of students, this free trial will make a big difference.

    If you are shopping at Amazon, this is worth looking into. It's difficult to find a more generous free trial.

  5. Sell second-hand things on Amazon

    To avoid your old belongings going to waste (and make money in the process) look into selling them online.

    Amazon is a popular site for selling second-hand things. If you're keen to find out more, see our guide to making money on Amazon.

    You could also look into selling your unwanted stuff on eBay.

    For inspiration, we have loads of ideas for second-hand things to sell online. Some of them will surprise you!

  6. Check Amazon for price comparison

    And finally, Amazon can come in handy even if you don't plan to buy anything from them.

    When you're shopping online – especially for expensive items – you'll get an idea of what a good deal is by comparing the prices of the same product on a few different sites (such as Amazon).

    You can also have a look at other retailers like eBay and Etsy, as well as Google Shopping results and comparison websites.

Make sure you know all of the top Amazon hacks to save money if you do decide to shop on the site.

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